Soak your bread crumbs in milk, use different kinds of meat and let the meat rest before assembling. All of these things should help with a more tender meatball.
Egg yolks (reserve the whites for another use).
Not handling them too much! I use one egg per two pounds of meat (a half pound of pork, 1 1/2 pounds chuck) and just enough bread crumbs to hold them together. Slide them under the broiler to brown them briefly and do most of the cooking in the sauce ....
I agree with the addition of milk & usingdifferent ground meats. A good combination is 1/2 beef, 1/4 veal & 1/4 pork. Also using buttermilk instead of regular milk to soak asmall amount of bread crumbs. But a veryImportant part of the technique is NOT compressing the meatballs when forming --they need a gentle touch.
We made these once --
They contained all of the elements outlined above, including instructions not to compress them or handle the meat too much. They were delicious, but a little too fluffy for our liking -- we tend to like a pretty dense meatball (I know, I know, sacreligious to many!).
I add a little water....also, finely chopped/grated onion mixed in...
Eggs, Yogurt, and any type of moisture holding grain or grin derivative (bread, breadcrumbs, ritz crackers, Cooked rice, etc (i really like to use cooked Quinoa as id adds more healthy protein, whole grain goodness, and a clean nutty flavor that makes my lamb meatballs awesome. Thing about flavor building, adding grains/bread that are cooked and toasted, which allow either more moisture themselves (cooked quinoa) or will absorb and retain added milk, yogurt, more than just bread (toasted bread, breadcrumbs)
well. this seems funny but, in my italian family instead of using dry breadcrumbs soaked in milk, we use fresh breadcrumbs made from hamburger buns...the lighter and airier the better (like a wonder bun). just whir them up in the food processor. couldn't be easier. also - don't overmix the meat. and lastly - we never fry them. just bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes or so, then finish in the sauce. they literally melt in your mouth every time. i promise!
I recently made meatballs by baking them in the oven, before finishing in the sauce; normally, I brown them in a skillet. The ones done in the oven definitely seemed less dense....maybe from not being exposed to direct heat? In any case, I'm a meatball convert. (And SO much less mess to clean - win/win.)
I've never used breadcrumbs in my meatballs, is that a usual ingredient?
For every pound of 80/20 beef (or fatty ground pork) I add 1 egg and about 2 TBS arrowroot powder plus spices, I fry until at least 1 side is brown and most of the outside has at least cooked a little (so they don't stick together), add the sauce (or soup broth) and simmer covered on medium/low until they're cooked through (165f in the center of the largest one). Generally I make them a little bigger than a golf ball and they take 20-30 minutes to cook. I've never had a problem with toughness.
Maybe your meat is too lean and you need to supplement it with some fat (or buy some that isn't so lean).
A blend of meats, not too much breadcrumbs, skillet browning, and oven finishing!
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